It took decades, but the hybrid vehicle market is finally gaining ground on other mainstream segments.
WardsAuto has been tracking the numbers since hybrids came to the market in 1999. Wards recently reported that U.S. consumers bought 427,605 hybrids in 2012, up from 261,507 in 2011. What could be considered just as amazing, hybrids also outsold a number of other segments including midsize luxury cars, small cross/utility vehicles and each of the three SUV segments.
According to the report, General Motors, Ford, Honda, BMW, Hyundai and Mercedes all recently entered the hybrid market and soon Acura, Infiniti, Honda, Nissan and Subaru will follow. There is even a Rolls-Royce hybrid on the market and Toyota is looking to offer a hybrid version of every car in its lineup.
According to a separate study titled Auto Industry Sets Sights on Alternative Power conducted by Thomson Reuters, alternative-power related patents increased in 2011 by 182 percent compared to 2006, showing how much research and development automakers are putting into these types of technologies.
"With stringent new fuel economy standards introduced in the U.S. that require global auto manufacturers to double their average mileage requirements, car companies have gotten very serious about alternative power," said Bob Stembridge , an intellectual property analyst at Thomson Reuters and author of the report. "The aggressive R&D efforts of some of the leading manufacturers suggest that consumer options for alternative power will grow considerably in the coming decade."
The report showed that Toyota accounted for 1,901 inventions, leading the industry, and it was followed by Honda, which had 587 inventions.
Green Car Journal's Green Car Technology Award
The Washington Auto Show on January 31 will feature the latest innovations in the auto industry that are looking to make the environment more sustainable.
"Presenting the very latest in thinking, technology, design, innovation, alternative fuel solutions, automotive safety and state-of-the-art prototypes, The Washington Auto Show is a global consortium of power, exploration and automotive frontiers that can only be assembled in Washington D.C. – and one you can't afford to miss," reads the Washington Auto Show's website. "The Advanced Technology SuperHighway Café will house the latest innovations in safety and sustainability and advanced technology. A guest lounge with computer kiosks will enable visitors to access floor plans and interactive presentations of many of the technology systems on display."
Earlier this month, finalists for the Green Car Journal's inaugural Green Car Technology Award were announced. One winner will be named on the second day of the Washington Auto Show, based on the 10 technologies that have been nominated. According to event officials, the vehicle with the best technology that strives for a new generation in fuel efficiency, alternative fuel or low emissions will win the award.
"The 'green' technologies that make possible achieving ever-higher efficiencies and lower environmental impact are often the unsung heroes of the automotive world," said Ron Cogan, editor and publisher of the Green Car Journal and CarsOfChange.com. "Whether employed in alternative fuel or conventionally powered vehicles, these technologies work in their own ways toward bringing us more environmentally positive transportation without sacrificing the functionality and driving enjoyment we expect from our vehicles."
Some of the technologies that were nominated for the Green Car Technology Award include Ford's Auto Stop-Start which shuts hybrids off when they are stopped and automatically turns them on when in order to save on fuel. Another is the Nissan Easy-Fill Tire Alert which lets owners know how much air their tires need.